Who doesn’t crave a delicious hot beverage during the colder months? Unfortunately many of the choices at the local coffee shops are high in sugar, additives, and chemicals. Tea can be a great healthy option to keep you warm. One great tea option is chaga. Chaga is actually a mushroom (stay with me…) that grows on birch trees in colder climates. If you are lucky enough to live near a forested area here in Canada, you may be able to harvest some of your own. If not, you can purchase chaga from a local health food store. Below is a picture of one of my favourite trusted brands.
Chaga is what many would call a “Superfood”. It is an incredible antioxidant—in fact it’s ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score, which is a measurement of its antioxidant properties, is off the charts according to studies by the USDA and Tufts University. Some estimations put the antioxidant content of 1 gram of chaga as equivalent to 3 pounds of blueberries. Chaga is also what we call an adaptogen or immunomodulator. Many mushrooms are immune boosters, but chaga actually helps to support and moderate our immune system—boosting or calming when required. This means that it is a good option for those who need to avoid immune boosting foods, such as those suffering from auto-immune conditions. To top it off, Chaga is also an antimicrobial.
With it’s rich, slightly sweet, and nutty flavour, chaga can be used in many different ways. Some of my favourites include using it as a base in a soup or smoothie. The simplest way, however, is to just drink it as is! Many people find it to be a great alternative to coffee. Below is a recipe for a simple chaga latte. Enjoy!
- 1/3 cup of dry chaga pieces
- 1 liter of water
- 1/4 cup of homemade nut milk
- Splash of maple syrup
- Add chaga bits to water and bring to simmer on the stove top. Continue simmering for at least 30 minutes until it reaches a rich dark colour. The longer you can simmer the better. You may add water as it evaporates. Strain chaga bits from tea and store in an airtight container. These pieces can be reused over and over to make tea until they begin to lose their dark colouring.
- In a small saucepan heat almond milk over low heat. Whisk in maple syrup. Continue whisking until nut milk is warm and as frothy as desired. For an even frothier texture blend warmed nut milk on high for a few seconds in a high speed blender.
- Transfer 1 cup of strained hot chaga tea into a mug. Pour heated and frothed nut milk over top.
- Keep leftover chaga in a glass jar in the fridge and reheat on the stove as desired.